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I know---I'm obsessed with iron, but it sounds like iron deficiency to me. All the Rotalas need high levels of iron.

My hypothesis: When the stem is cut and does not have a root system, it is not going to be as efficient at getting iron. Once some new roots have grown, it regains its uptake capabilities.
 

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In iron deficiency in the Rotalas an early symptom is smaller leaves and then comes death of the growing point. Probably, the death of the growing point had already occured, and that is why the new growth started and the old growth did not resume.
 
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